Friday, February 13, 2009
"Caravans" : THE WEEKEND MIX
I missed Juan Tizol's birthday. I also missed my mother-in-law's birthday, but she didn't write "Caravan." Tizol's birthday was January 22, and that was the day I planned on posting a mix of my favorite "Caravans," but I dropped the ball.
Here's some of what All Music has to say about Juan Tizol:
"An underrated but very talented all-round musician, Juan Tizol was an indispensable part of Duke Ellington's Orchestra for 15 years. After moving to the U.S. in 1920, Tizol played in Washington, D.C., with the Marie Lucas Orchestra, and worked with Bobby Lee's Cottonpickers and the White Brothers' Band. After joining Duke Ellington in August 1929, Tizol (who rarely soloed) became an important ensemble player. His fluidity on valve trombone (he was the first significant jazz player on that instrument) allowed him not only to bolster the trombone section but to fill in for absent saxophonists. In addition, Tizol composed "Caravan" and "Perdido," two songs that would always be associated with Ellington.
After leaving Duke in April 1944, Tizol worked with Harry James until March 1951. At that time, Tizol was part of the "Great James Robbery" which occurred when three of James' sidemen joined Ellington (who had recently lost Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown, and Sonny Greer). Tizol stayed with Duke until late 1953, when he returned to James' band for the rest of the decade. His third stint with Ellington (in the spring of 1960) was brief, and then he largely retired, living in Los Angeles and later on Las Vegas."
It's hard to escape "Caravan," if you're a jazz fan. It turns up somewhere in almost every live set by every jazz artist. The song's melody is so distinct, that even the most radically rearranged versions won't detract from its majesty.
Here are some my favorites including two killer live versions that seem to be at opposite ends of the music spectrum, yet feature musicians from the same part of the world- Cassandra Wilson's live take from 2008's Umbria Jazz Fest that features two of New Orleans' finest, Herlin Riley on drums and Jonathan Batiste on piano, and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews' live throwdown from the New Orleans' Jazz Fest of 2006.
I want to thank the brilliant trumpet player and friend Maurice Brown for allowing the use of his still unreleased version that also kicks a bit of ass.
Also included are unique takes from The Coffin Daggers and The Ventures, as well as some soulful readings from Donald Harrison Jr. and the great Nat King Cole.
Caravan- Cassandra Wilson with Herlin Riley & Jonathan Batiste
Caravan- The Coffin Daggers
Caravan- Donald Harrison Jr.
Caravan- Nat King Cole Trio
Caravan- Maurice Brown
Caravan- Troy (Trombone Shorty) Andrews
Caravan- The Ventures